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The Stranger: Top Ten Quotations

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  1. Also, it would have meant losing my Sunday – not to mention the fag of going to the bus, getting my ticket, and spending two hours on the journey each way. p. 4 In this reference, Meursault explains why he rarely visited his mother in the home in her last year alive. He fails to live up to the hypocritical expectations of others (here and throughout the narrative).
  2. Now, in the full glare of the morning sun, with everything shimmering in the heat-haze, there was something inhuman, discouraging, about this landscape. p. 10 This reference comes as the mourners set off for the funeral of Meursault’s mother. This is an apt example of how he is aware of and troubled by the conditions surrounding him.
  3. I told him I was quite prepared to go; but really I didn’t care much one way or the other. p. 24 At this point, Meursault has been asked by his employer if he would like to work for the company in Paris. His reaction typifies his apparent indifference and, again, the insignificance of events on his life. He goes on to tell his employer that one life is as good as another.
  4.  And each successive shot was another loud, fateful rap on the door of my undoing.p. 35 In this quotation, Meursault has just murdered a man after returning to the beach alone and as he states, this is his undoing. The earlier claim that it makes no difference whether he fires or not is made questionable.
  5. So I learned that even after a single day’s experience of the outside world a man could easily live a hundred year in prison. He’d have laid up enough memories never to be bored. p. 45 Meursault learns to place some sort of value on his existence, if only now that his life is to be cut short with the guillotine.
  6. Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure. p. 3 This now infamous first line of The Outsider epitomizes Meursault’s apparent lack of concern. As the quotation continues, it becomes clearer that he is uncertain of the date as the telegram makes the date unclear but it also typifies his seeming indifference to events around him. One may regard this as giving a sense of realism, honesty, and/or allowing us to see this as a sign of his moral turpitude.
  7. We could only watch each other, never lowering our eyes; the whole world seemed to have come to a standstill on this little strip of sand between the sunlight and the sea, the twofold silence of the reed and stream. And just then it crossed my mind that one might fire, or not fire – and it would all come to absolutely the same thing. p. 33 Once more, the insignificance of human action is emphasized as Meursault considers firing or not firing the gun to come to ‘absolutely the same thing’. At this point, Meursault and Raymond leave.
  8. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained was to hope that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.p. 68 This final sentence demonstrates Meursault laying ‘his heart open to the benign indifference of the universe’. After venting his anger on the prison chaplain, he realizes he has been happy and is happy, and his death sentence will mean that he will not go unnoticed as he experiences living up to the last second.
  9. I even had an impression that the dead body in their midst meant nothing at all to them. But now I suspect that I was mistaken about this. p. 8 On hindsight, Meursault recognizes that his mother’s death and his behavior at the funeral were noted by those around him.

  10. It occurred to me that somehow I’d got through another Sunday, that Mother was now buried, and tomorrow I’d be going back to work as usual. Really, nothing in my life had changed.p. 15 This telling quotation reveals how the characterization of Meursault depends on an understanding of the absurd and of the insignificance of humans.


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